Stop feeding your dog or cat a vegetarian diet or a diet high in vegetables and fruits for an extended period of time. Why should you feed your dog or cat meat? Share if you are a true pet lover. The following article from Pet Mart will specifically analyze the vegetarian diet issue for dogs and cats.

Table of Contents:

3 reasons why dogs and cats do not eat vegetarian food
Can dogs and cats get enough nutrients from a vegetarian or vegetable-based diet?
Animal and plant protein are not the same
The harmful effects of long-term vegetarianism for dogs and cats
When can dogs and cats be fed a vegetarian diet?
Notes when feeding dogs and cats a vegetarian diet
References for information related to vegetarian diets for cats and dogs.

Three reasons why dogs and cats do not eat vegetarian food: In recent times, we have received a lot of opinions on whether or not dogs and cats should be fed vegetables. How much should they eat? How long should they be fed? Especially, there are opinions that dogs and cats can eat vegetarian food and still be healthy.

According to Dr. Lisa Weeth, a veterinary nutrition expert, she often does not recommend a vegetarian diet for dogs and cats. The nutritional needs of dogs and cats, whether meat or vegetables, need to be provided with essential nutrients in a balanced manner to ensure comprehensive development for pets, especially in the first 2-15 months of life. This is almost impossible with a completely vegetarian diet.

In this article, we will gather knowledge, international scientific documents, and advice from veterinarians both in and outside the country to clarify all the above questions. If you are too lazy to read the evidence section, you can go straight to the conclusion at the end of the article.

First of all, we need to understand some preconditions that have been proven by science in cats regarding Protein – Carbohydrate – Vitamin as follows:

Dogs and cats are carnivores. The instinct that Mother Nature gives dogs and cats is to live and get energy from protein, which is animal-based protein. Not from vegetables.
Dogs and cats have a low need for carbohydrates (starch-sugar), accounting for very little (2-5% of the diet). Because the digestive system of cats lacks amylase enzymes to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.
Dogs and cats get vitamins from meat, organs, and undigested food in the organs of animals they hunt. If they lack vitamins, according to their instinct, they will seek out the foods containing these vitamins, not vegetables or fruits.
Can dogs and cats get all necessary nutrients from a vegetarian diet?

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If you have fed your dog or cat a vegetarian diet and claim that they are healthy, it should be noted that all animals will live normally until they become sick and die. A vegetarian diet will change the pH in the urinary tract, which can lead to kidney stones.

Furthermore, if there is no or too little animal protein in the food, it can cause a severe deficiency in taurine for kittens, which can lead to blindness due to decreased retinal ganglion cells. If you want to change the world, do it alone. Humans are omnivores while cats are carnivores. Let us stop this unnatural crime.

If a cat is given too much carbohydrate, it can cause diabetes, obesity, and a decrease in protein absorption. It can also harm the internal organs because the cat’s digestive system is not designed to digest too much starch. Note that potatoes are 20% carb, sweet potatoes are 21%, and beets are 12%. To supplement vitamins for dogs and cats, we have sources of food that are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as seafood, dry seeds, oat grass (cat grass), supplements, and possibly vegetables.

Animal and plant proteins are not the same.
If the pet owner is a vegetarian or vegan and wants to make their pet a completely vegetarian dog, it is understandable. Can a healthy adult dog or cat slowly transition to a vegetarian diet? In some cases, it is still possible as long as dogs and cats are provided with balanced nutrition for each stage of their life. However, this is not as simple as you might think.

A completely vegetarian diet for dogs and cats can provide some protein, but the level is not enough for dogs to develop. In addition, plant-based protein does not contain enough essential amino acids to meet the dog’s needs as in animal protein. Veterinarians look at the biological value (BV), a measure used to determine the effectiveness of a particular protein.

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Another problem with plant-based protein is that it tends to be less digestible than animal-based protein. So if you feed them soybeans, it will be converted differently from when you feed them chicken or beef. Therefore, we need to ensure that plant-based proteins are digestible and safe for dogs to use. Otherwise, we may make a big mistake, especially with pregnant cats and dogs.
According to Dr. Susan Jeffrey, a veterinarian at Truesdell Animal Care Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, some vegetarian diets may lack essential amino acids such as taurine and L-carnitine, which are typically found in meat. Providing insufficient amounts of these nutrients can lead to health problems such as heart disease. A lack of taurine can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy.

Harmful effects of feeding dogs and cats a vegetarian diet in the long term:
If vegetables are overused for the purpose of supplementing vitamins and fiber in large amounts and for a long time, the following disadvantages may occur:

Causing vitamin excess: Failure to control or properly calculate the amount of vegetables can lead to this situation. In addition, using frozen and thawed vegetable products will lose most of the water-soluble vitamins, rendering them ineffective. Synthetic vitamins may be more difficult to absorb than natural vitamins but they are more complete. Since they are designed specifically for dogs and cats, the dosage is controlled to prevent excess and poisoning.
Causing carbohydrate excess: As mentioned above, boiled potatoes contain 20% carbs, sweet potatoes contain 21%, and beets contain 12%. Therefore, calculating how to supplement these without exceeding 2-5% of a cat’s diet requires careful mathematical calculations. It cannot be based on experience as some people say, “I’ve been eating this way for years and haven’t died yet.
Mixed fruits and vegetables are not safe: Some cat food types that mix fresh vegetables and fruits often use these ingredients to sell at low prices. This leads to the use of low-quality animal products such as chicken heads and bones to reduce costs. These products, even when ground, can still have bone fragments that can cause choking or if the bones are sharp, they can puncture the throat and cause infection. Ground fruits and vegetables are an ideal environment for harmful bacteria to grow. That’s why fresh food with vegetables always needs to be refrigerated.

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Furthermore, not all vegetarian foods for dogs are produced equal. To ensure your dog’s diet meets the standards of quality nutritional control, you need to check the label or contact the company. The dog food packaging must contain a statement that the food contains complete nutrition. Or at least it must comply with the requirements of the AAFCO organization. In addition, dog food products must specify the appropriate age range for use.

When should dogs and cats eat vegetarian?

Dr. Joe Bartges, a veterinary nutrition specialist and professor of Medical Nutrition at the University of Georgia, Athens, said: A vegetarian diet may be a reasonable choice when your cat or dog needs to avoid animal meat protein, such as in the case of kidney disease, urate bladder stones, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Some cats and dogs are more sensitive to animal meat protein than to plant protein. Therefore, switching them to a vegetarian diet may be helpful for IBD cases.

However, it does not mean that a vegetarian diet is better for all cases of IBD in cats and dogs. With IBD, it really depends on each individual’s response. Therefore, if your cat or dog is allergic to food, we need to monitor where the protein components come from, whether they are of plant or animal origin.

Considerations when feeding cats and dogs a vegetarian diet:

If you are forced to feed your cat or dog a vegetarian diet after consulting a veterinarian, there are still some things to keep in mind:

First, plant protein tends to make urine more alkaline. If you switch completely to a vegetarian diet, it should be a moderate protein and should not add any uric acid. It can cause your dog to be at risk of struvite stones.

Visible changes in a dog’s coat can indicate that the dog is not absorbing enough essential fatty acids. Observe your dog’s coat carefully to see if it is shiny and healthy. If you notice any changes in your dog’s coat, consult your veterinarian to adjust your diet accordingly.



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